Knowledge Centre Blog

Who Will Sponsor My Project? Finding the fit.

By Rowena Neville, Director of Marketing & PR, Business to Arts

Identifying sponsorship prospects can be a tricky business, but one that’s essential. You waste your own and others’ time sending out generic letters to all and sundry without some kind of science behind why you’re doing it. Face facts – it’s not likely to work.

Have a think about the project you’re seeking sponsorship for. Think about the likely audience and map who they are and in what way they will be engaged over the course of the project. These touchpoints are what your potential sponsors are going to be interested in, and will ultimately help you put an appropriate value on the partnership.

Then you can start asking questions and doing research in the business marketplace. Such as :

  • Who’s spending money right now?

This could be on marketing, expanding workforce, investing in new buildings etc.

  • What new activity is there in the market?

New companies, new products, new advertising campaign, who’s obviously building brand profile?

  • Who’s big in your local area?
    Companies employing people in the local area should be invested in growing capacity locally, and might be interested to see your organisation grow, to help build a stronger community.
  • Who innovates around the space where we want to be?

Using their workforce skills to help you grow could give them a creative boost.

  • Who is developing new technologies that interest you or could link to your artform?

Perhaps working together creatively could help showcase their products.

  • Who supports what we do in other places?

Look at your peers abroad and what international companies support them.

  • Who supports my artform?

A company synonymous with photography, might be interested in an innovative photography programme your organisation is running.

  • We have a big anniversary coming up…who else does?

Maybe you could have a shared party to celebrate the joint achievement.

  • Who already cares about what we do?

Look at your existing family of sponsors, customers, suppliers and who your audience are.

These questions (and others you might add) should help create a long-list of potential prospects, so you can move on to the next series of questions to help interrogate the list and distil it down to the strongest list of potential prospects.

Before you approach anyone to consider sponsoring your project, be sure that you know WHY they should. No matter your method of approaching an organisation, they should be clear that this approach is tailored to them and their business needs, that there’s a thought-through series of reasons why a partnership makes sense, and that they will clearly benefit. Looking at your long-list, try making some notes against these and other questions :

  • Whose customers are my customers?
  • Who wants what I’m selling?
  • What potential partnerships would be the most newsworthy?
  • Who shares the same values?
  • Which companies share a brand fit?
  • What unique benefits could I offer that would suit their specific business challenges?

This will identify the companies that are not a good fit, where a partnership doesn’t make sense, and will help you work up an approach that is tailored to each of the organisations on your shortlist. Showing that you understand their business and have familiarised yourself with where they are in the market and how they market themselves; and immediately referencing the areas of similarity and the great ways you can work together, will help you get that meeting to present your investment ideas.

A final note on seeking sponsorship is to give yourself plenty of time. We typically recommend at least 18 months in-advance. We are not the only ones. The DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center recommend developing your artistic programme at least 5 years in-advance and identify prospects based on this long term planning.

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